Greatest Escapes Week

10 Genius Travel Hacks You Need to Know Before Next Flight... From the Ultimate Insider

Prepare to elevate your experience.

After having traveled hundreds of thousands of miles in my life, it’s safe to say that I’ve developed some personal travel tips that I follow whenever I’m in the sky. When I share these hacks with The Points Guy readers, friends, or family, it’s always great to see their reaction — something along the lines of, “Ah, that makes so much sense! Why haven’t I thought of that before?”

There are so many little nuggets of information that can help enhance the travel experience for everyone, whether you’re flying in first class or at the back of the plane. Here are 10 of my favorite random travel hacks for your next flight:

1.  Use a fork.

Food can do some bizarre things at 35,000 feet. Ever had your seemingly innocent salad dressing spew back at you? It’s normal — and can ruin your favorite shirt. But make sure it doesn’t happen on your next flight by puncturing the container with a fork so it doesn’t splatter due to cabin pressure.

2.  Always have bottled water.

Bottled water has many uses on planes — way more than just for drinking. On a long-haul flight and want to brush your teeth? Bring your bottled water in the bathroom and use that for brushing. The lavatory water is not potable — you don’t want that slushing around your teeth.

3.  More blankets = comfier flight.

I’ve flown so many times in a nearly — or almost entirely — empty business- or fist class-cabin. Make sure your flight is more comfortable by taking the extra blankets and pillows from the empty seats around the cabin. Make sure you do this only if you’re sure the seats are empty.

4.  Use headphones for more than music.

Noise-cancelling headphones are good for more than just playing your favorite music or podcast without any interruptions. Create a peaceful and silent environment by using your noise-cancelling headphones sans music. I love doing that, and I get so much work done for hours — I always end up less stressed out.

5.  Shoes are your friends.

Yes, I love taking my shoes off almost immediately when I get on a plane — especially when I’m ready to recline and take advantage of a lie-flat bed. But I always make sure to put them back on when I need to use the restroom. I once was lazy and didn’t put my shoes back on and stepped in urine in the lav (thankfully it wasn’t worse).

If you must wear socks, use the amenity kit disposables and then throw them out. Speaking of socks, I always take mine off and use the amenity kit pair while in-flight. Before landing, I’ll put my own socks back on — there’s something so refreshing about putting on fresh socks.

6.  Choose your seat wisely.

Where your seat is located in the cabin can make a world of difference for your flight. I choose seats in the middle of the cabin. That way, you avoid galley noise and will also likely get your choice of entrée because the flight attendants usually start at the front or the back of the cabin.

Plus, seats toward the front or the rear of the cabin tend to have fewer windows. The seats in the middle of the cabin are usually standard issue. That being said, there are some aircraft where I prefer the bulkhead row because of its larger footwell — like on Singapore’s A350 and Delta’s 767.

Related: The Beginner’s Guide to Points and Miles: Essential Travel Tips

7.  Try to fly big.

Generally speaking, the bigger the plane you’re on, the less turbulence you’ll feel while in the air. For that reason alone, I love flying the A380. Oh, and they’re much quieter than almost every other aircraft. Little turbulence and a quiet ride is a winning combination in my book.

8.  Ensure aisle access.

When a cabin is arranged in a two-by-two-by-two configuration, always choose one of the two middle seats. That way, you always have direct aisle access. When you sit on the side of the cabin, you’ll then have to climb over someone (or be climbed over) every time you get up. Just avoid the mess altogether, if possible.

9.  Technology makes for a better flight.

Newer, composite aircraft like the Boeing 787 Dreamliner, the A350, and the A380 are some of the best out there for a reason. They’re designed to make for a more comfortable flight, and in that sense, they create less stress on your body. When you’re traveling long distances, that kind of technology can really make a difference — especially when it comes to fighting jet lag.

10.  Get the best available seat.

All of the desirable seats taken on your flight? Set ExpertFlyer seat alerts so you know when bulkhead or exit row seats become available. If something ideal opens up, you’ll get an email and can snatch it before anyone else!

Bottom line

When it comes to flying, there are tips that can help make the travel experience just a little bit sweeter for everyone. Whether it’s saving your shirt from the attack of the balsamic vinaigrette dressing or knowing what kind of seats are best, these can definitely help make a difference.

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